Discussion: Please, Tell Me How the Story Ends

It’s pretty much an old cliché that country music artists tend to be the most personable and accessible to their fans. I don’t know if it’s technically true, but I tend to believe it myself. Over the years, I’ve heard some stories that have blown me away regarding the generosity of country music artists and I’m not talking about the highly publicized fundraisers or official charitable events. I think those are certainly worthwhile, but it’s the intimate stories that truly tug at my stiff heartstrings.

One of my favorite stories is about Johnny Cash. His brother, Tommy, tells of a time that they were in a locker room together and he caught Johnny inconspicuously looking for the most worn out pair of sneakers that he could find so that he could slip a $100 bill in them.

More recently, I’ve seen a story that, once again, makes me feel good about the people who represent country music on a human level. While this story about Dierks Bentley’s day with a boy with Autism (as told by the boy’s grateful mother) is long, I defy you not to be moved by it.

What are your favorite stories involving country music artists? While my examples were serious, feel free to go in a different direction (funny, intriguing, etc.), as long as it’s tasteful.


  1. My favourites involve ghosts and I read a few of them in Ralph Emery’s ‘The View from Nashville’ and my all time favourite story is too long to write but it involves Merle Travis and Johnny Horton and Hank Williams.
    But anyways another shorter favourite is: Carl Perkins was close to Elvis and wrote a song about his mom called ‘Mama,’ He sent it off to Elvis’ producer Felton Jarvis, who let Elvis hear it. He was deeply moved by it and planned on recording it but died before he had a chance.
    Sometime after Elvis died, Felton was producing Carl and they planned on recording ‘Mama’ and during the session after they got through recording they played it back and heard an ‘open G’ which was Elvis’s distinctive trademark guitar chord. All the players were stunned and looked at eachother because nobody played an ‘open G’ One guy had an electic guitar, another was in the back, so they were convinced it was Elvis. To this day they never found the G chord that was on the record.

  2. I remember the story you’re talking about, highwayman. And whether it’s true or not, it’s still very interesting. I’ll try to condense it the best I can, from memory.

    It seems that Johnny Horton had a premonition that he was going to die, and that it would be in a car. But all country stars traveled in cars back then, so that part wasn’t all that far-fetched to believe. Anyway, Johnny told Merle that, if there was an afterlife, he would try to contact him from it, with a very specific message. The message, ‘the drummer is a rummer and can’t hold the beat’ would be heard by a group of mediums holding a seance in New York City in the early 1960s, from a ghost-like figure in a white cowboy hat. The message confused the mediums, but when word about it got back to Merle Kilgore, he knew his friend had ‘made it to the other side, and was sending me a message that he’s okay.’

    Emery’s book(s) had a lot of stories that centered on the unexplained, and another one involving Sammy Kershaw, who was about to commit suicide in the back of a dry cleaners where was working at the time, and the woman who came to visit him, before vanishing into thin air, and how that incident saved Sammy’s life, is also a really great read.

  3. Ya that’s the one J.R. and I realized I got my Merle’s mixed up after I sent it.
    There’s more to the story if I remember, A week before Johnny died he went up to Merle Kilgore and told him he could have his guitar and told him ‘the drummer is the runner…’ saying. because Johnny knew he was going to die a week from then at a certain show he was doing (He was playing the same venue that Hank Williams played the night he died and was married to Hanks former wife.) and he knew he was going to be killed by a drunk. So he got through the show and got in the car and was travelling on the same stretch of highway Hank died on, and a drunk driver hit him dead on and killed him.
    And to further add to this, when Hank Williams was alive he went up to Johnny Horton and told him something like, ‘You’re going to marry my wife someday’ and Johnny didn’t know what he was talking about, then after Hank died they ended up marrying, so it was ironic he died on the same highway after playing the same venue.

  4. Sometimes it’s just the little things. That’s a beautiful thing Dierks did for that little boy, thank you so much for sharing that story.

    I dont personally have a story, but my sister has been such an avid Reba fan for so long that one year for her birthday Narvel and Reba brought her on the bus for some personal time. Wasnt much to some, but you dont see a lot of artists that care enough like that.

  5. My opinion of Dierks, his wife, and his band & staff really went through the roof after reading that story. It was wonderful of them to be so kind to that little boy and his mom.

    I remember reading in “Three Chords And The Truth” how, back when Fan Fair had all those booths, at its old location, they set aside some time for handicapped fans who couldn’t get around in the crowds very well. But many stars didn’t show at those times. One who always did was Shania Twain. The book relates how she spent hours with those fans, kneeling by their wheelchairs to talk to them at eye-level. These days, that type of kindness seems to be a rare thing. It’s wonderful when you see it.

  6. I honestly think country artist are the most genuine and modest people in the biz, all these stories are great, I had never heard that one about Johnnt before.

    Well my story was featured on here and it still baffles me when I reminisce about that night; https://www.countryuniverse.net/2009/02/22/an-evening-with-carrie-underwood/

    It was also in country weekly mag; http://www.countryweekly.com/carrie_underwood/feature/1404

    Carrie Underwood: “See You Onstage”
    Carrie Underwood fan Vanessa Prince is Canadian—from Belle River, Ontario, to be exact—but she couldn’t help being charmed by an all-American girl.

    While waiting in the meet-and-greet line before Carrie’s concert in Detroit, Vanessa met Hayley Ray, an excited but very polite 4-year-old whose biggest wish was about to come true. Vanessa watched as the wide-eyed youngster caught a glimpse of Carrie. “She covered her mouth with one hand,” writes Vanessa, “then looked at us and said, ‘She’s real pretty.’”

    While conversing with Hayley’s aunt, Kim Roberts, Vanessa learned that the special meeting was set into motion by Hayley’s grandmother, whose co-worker knows Carrie’s bus driver*. They joined forces on behalf of Hayley, who has leukemia. Knowing this, Vanessa watched tearfully as Carrie sang a Disney song to Hayley while the two of them danced around. “Carrie knelt down for one last hug and said, ‘If I ask you to come onstage will you dance with me again?’ ” Hayley quickly agreed, recalls Vanessa, “and said, adorably, ‘See you onstage.’”

    Vanessa videotaped Hayley’s guest spot during “All-American Girl,” which prompted a flood of positive responses after being posted on the Internet. No one’s been more inspired, though, than Vanessa: “You see how happy and positive Hayley is, you see Carrie and her kindness . . . suddenly, you realize your problems are ‘so small.’”

    * Correction: Hayley Ray’s grandmother’s co-worker, Kathy Beyer, tells CW that it was not Carrie’s bus driver but rather Chris Cagle’s driver, Tommy, who helped set up the meet-and-greet between Carrie and Hayley. (Thanks, Kathy, for setting the record straight.)

    Support The Team
    Hayley, now 5, is thankfully in remission. But her dad, along with many others, is helping raise funds for leukemia awareness by running in an April triathlon in Tampa, Fla., for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. Hayley’s parents, Chris and Katie Ray, have asked CW readers who are touched by this story to consider making a donation to the organization in Hayley’s honor. To donate to the Ray family’s fundraising efforts, go to Chris Ray’s Donation Page on the Lymphoma Society’s website.


  7. VP,

    Funny, I was just about to post that! I was at the Detroit concert and Carrie was fabulous- but Haley getting to sing with her idol was my favorite part of the night. I still watch the video when I need something to put a smile on my face.

    I didn’t know the story of Haley at the time, but after reading her story I was blown away, both by Carrie and Haley.

    Thanks so much for sharing this story- it really does make everything seem “so small.”

  8. Definatly Reba’s story of back in the 80’s when she was a rising star, she brought a bunch of things (household items, bedsheets, etc) for a bunch of homeless people she heard about on the news… (I think, she mentions it in her autobiography)

    You just dont find strange kindness like that much anymore…

  9. This is something that happens all the time, but I was in a meet and greet with the amazing miss Kellie Pickler. There was a special needs girl, I don’t think she was Autistic, but she had gotten in a car accident when she was little and her life wouldn’t be the same as other kids’ her age. When Kellie saw her, she just gave her the biggest hug imaginable and the little girl just exclaimed “Oh my god!”. It was so cute how sweet Kellie was with this little girl, saying “I’m so glad you came!” just like they were best friends.

  10. There is a wonderful story that happened last month with Little Texas, and how they ended their 20th Anniversary Tour by performing at a local TN high school football regional playoff game when the school’s marching band was out of town. They came to the rescue, endearing young and old fans to their hearts. You can read the article here http://www.callmeentertainment.com/Little%20Texas.htm , and see a photo of Little Texas with the high school principal and school mascot. No matter how many millions of records these guys have sold, they are as sincere and “real” today as the first day they performed on a stage!

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